Holly Shand shares her Gameweek 31 player picks, as the busy Premier League schedule continues into its midweek round of fixtures...
"Sadio Mane has 14 goals and nine assists for the season: this is one of his best seasons in the Premier League high and he remains in the Golden Boot race for the second season running."
The Headline Pick: Sadio Mane - Crystal Palace (H)
Could Wednesday be the day that Liverpool finally lift the Premier League title? Their 20 year wait has been prolonged even further because of the coronavirus pandemic, so I'm expecting a jubilant performance in this game, with Sadio Mane at the heart of it. Opponents Crystal Palace are in mid table obscurity with very little to play for.
At the time of writing, Sadio Mane has 14 goals and nine assists for the season: this is one of his best seasons in the Premier League and he remains in the Golden Boot race for the second season running. In his last five Premier League games against Crystal Palace, Sadio Mane has scored in every single game.
While it's hard to avoid rotation given this congested schedule, expect Klopp to field a full strength side given the narrative here. Mane has been the key man for Liverpool this season from an offensive perspective and particularly prevalent in the biggest games.
Liverpool are now available to back at 8/11 to win and score over 2.5 goals against Crystal Palace this midweek.
The Budget Pick: Dominic Calvert-Lewin - Norwich (A)
Norwich's dismal 3-0 defeat against Southampton on Friday seems to have sealed their fate, and has forced offensive assets from Everton onto our radar ahead of Gameweek 31. Southampton aren't particularly known for their attacking prowess, but brushed aside the Canaries defence with ease.
Since Carlo Ancelotti arrived on Merseyside around the turn of the year, Calvert-Lewin has been in sensational form. His link-up play with Richarlison has developed into one of the most prevalent partnerships in the Premier League, with the Englishman scoring nine goals in 14 games at the time of writing.
Norwich actually won the reverse fixture 2-0, which was the catalyst for managerial changes at Goodison Park. Calvert-Lewin was just a substitute that day. He's had plenty of success against teams in the bottom half of the table this calendar year, with goals against Burnley, West Ham, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.
The VAR Pick: Kevin De Bruyne - Chelsea (A)
The fact that Kevin De Bruyne is the penalty taker for Manchester City has taken him to another stratosphere in terms of his potential as a fantasy asset. The City playmaker now has nine goals to go alongside 19 fantasy assists for the season at the time of writing.
A questionnable assist against Arsenal also puts him on 16 assists for the season, with Thierry Henry's record edging ever closer. He's most assured of minutes from this potent City attack and only Manchester United have been awarded more penalties than them in this first season of VAR.
This midweek, it's an intriguing match up for Manchester City against De Bruyne's former employers Chelsea. He scored in the reverse fixture, a game which City won 2-1. Chelsea have conceded two spot kicks themselves this season.
You can back VAR and bet on Manchester City to score a penalty against Chelsea at odds of 7/2.
The Sleeper Pick: Harry Kane - West Ham (H)
There's a London Derby this midweek and it will provide Harry Kane with an excellent opportunity to bounce back after a lacklustre performance against Manchester United on Friday. He managed just one shot against the Red Devils and failed to give them any real defensive headaches.
Expect Dele Alli and Lucas Moura to return to the side in this game, as they hunt down a Champions League place. That will surely bolster Harry Kane's output, as he looks to add to his 11 goal tally for the season so far. He also has spot kick duty.
Kane has had an excellent record against West Ham, with seven goals from eight Premier League starts against the Hammers. He was one of the Spurs players to get on the scoresheet when they won 3-2 at the London Stadium earlier in this campaign.
The Wildcard Pick: Jamie Vardy - Brighton (H)
Jamie Vardy is the current top goalscorer for the season at the time of writing, having found the back of the net on 19 occasions. He stands his best chance of winning the Golden Boot, having been pushed hard by Kane in Leicester's title winning season, where he scored 24 goals.
Vardy has four goals in five Premier League appearances against the Seagulls, including his 12 point haul in the reverse fixture, where he scored one and created another in a 2-0 win. That came right in the middle of his hot streak last November.
While 2020 has been pretty dismal so far for Vardy from a goalscoring perspective, he is known for his ability to hit the ground running. He scored a brace in the last Premier League game before lockdown, having come on a substitute and playing just 27 minutes.
Vardy, to score is 10/11 against Brighton.
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